We ♡ Woodend!


This is quite important. MRSC have unilaterally decided, without asking anyone in the shire, but under instruction from Regional Development Victoria, to build a ‘conference centre’ next to Hanging Rock. Bugger the owls and wallabies, apparently we need another underperforming accommodation venue in the Macedon Ranges. If this annoys you more than somewhat, get in the councillors’ ears. Phone or write. http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Council_the_Region/About_Council/Councillors_Wards

They’re making a decision on it this evening, so the sooner the better.

You may have seen an advertisement in ‘The New Woodend Star’ current issue to do with the “Davies Hill” (site? as in “building site”?) familiarization walkarounds that Stuart Bonnington, Rory “Mr Villawood” Costelloe’s ‘man on the spot’, is organising – scheduled for the next three Saturdays – 11am to 12pm tomorrow, 1pm – 2pm next Saturday the 17th, and 3pm – 4pm on the 24th.

Just past the front of the golf course on the left of the Avenue of Honour, going out of town. No doubt there’ll be signs. Maybe balloons and streamers.

Now is a chance to go along and ask him some hard questions. There’ll be other skeptics and anti-development folk there, along with a rumoured Villawood ‘rent-a-crowd’/astroturfers. Even the press.

Stuart says wear gumboots. Waders may be in order.

Here’s some ideas to start with. Here also is something written a while back, on the same topic.

If you go, ask to be taken to the very back of the property, behind the golf course. A really nice little patch of intact woodland.

  1. How much is the proposed Gregory St extension road access up the 5 Mile Creek escarpment, across the 5 Mile Creek floodplain going to cost? (estimates range from 1.5 – 2.5 MILLION dollars). Who is going to pay for that? Have you consulted with any environmentalists and engineers to see how that will affect flooding of the town, and the aquatic ecology of the creek – with what will effectively be a concrete dam wall backing up floodwater? How have you squared the massive, intrusive and damaging excavation necessary on the escarpment for this road (at the back of the Golf course) with the Environmental Protection and Significant Landscape Overlays that exist on this land?
  2. What have you promised Brian Gedge, who owns part of the floodplain?
  3. Where will the stormwater (and sewage overflow) go from any paved surfaces that are built? The ‘wetlands’ proposed are inadequate for the job, and will further pollute a water catchment.
  4. Why are you promoting a development that is contrary to planning recommendations for this land? The C84 Amendment panel report (expert comments on the same here & link to the document) recommended that any views from the Avenue of Honour across the land not be obstructed nor changed. Why do you think that you know better?
  5. How much ‘upgrading’ of quiet and pleasant streets on the west side of town(into noisy and unpleasant streets) will be necessary to handle 600+ extra cars coming and going into Woodend daily? Will you pay for this?
  6. What about the number 2 road access point onto the Avenue of Honour? How many trees will you take out for this?
  7. Why did Braemar College give you the flick?
  8. Can I play and/or sing “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell in front of your office every day from now on?
  9. Why did you originally propose 1000 houses to go on this land? Why did you drop it to 600? Why are you now only proposing under 300? What will all the other land be used for? Will this ever be developed? Is this merely “Stage One” of your suburban development?
  10. Will Council have to manage all the ‘open space’ that you propose to donate to the shire? They can barely manage what we have already, even with volunteer help.
  11. What will be the expected return that Villawood hopes to receive from their purchase and development of this land? Is it true that is in the region of over 12 times what you paid for it?
  12. Why do you expect that this land will be rezoned, just because you want it to be? Why are you ignoring/downplaying the ESO, the VPO, the RCZ and SLO applied to this land? Overview, explanation of the TLAs, and map.
  13. Why are your local boosters muddying and distorting the figures of demand for land and housing in the town – and ignoring the fact that 55% of Woodend residents, in any 5 year period, are new ones, yet population only grows at less than the Victorian regional average, not the average for large regional towns, as your allies and apologists are spruiking? Why do you insist that the market for properties in the town is much larger than it actually is? Why do we need a massive new housing estate?

There’s plenty more questions that could be asked, including ones around the dubious carpetbagging of the footy club, why they are giving money to Rotary for the Racecourse Reserve exercise track, and others – ‘buying their way in’.

Go if you can – it’ll show what people in this town REALLY want.


No VillaWoodend is a confederation of Woodend and Macedon Ranges residents, visitors, supporters and fans who strongly oppose the form, scale and footprint of residential housing development proposed by large property developers for the Shire of the Macedon Ranges – Villawood Properties’ Golf Course Hill (“Davies’ Hill”) development proposal:


We do not want our town, nor any other, to become a copy of an outer suburb of a large city:

Villawood Properties and their associates have purchased 522 acres of land to the west of the Avenue of Honour in Woodend, Victoria, and intend a subdivision of more than 650 dwelling sites upon it. This is contrary to and in defiance of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s Settlement Strategy for the town, and to most people already resident in Woodend’s wishes for their home.

Nearly every essential service in Woodend will become over-stressed – nearly everything in and about the centre of town will change in rapid succession to cope with the rapid influx of approximately 2000 new residents.

Villawood are not proposing to plan or build any new infrastructure to cope with this massive population increase. When questioned, their standard response is “services will be provided by the council”, or ” . . . the relevant authority (VLine, VicRoads, DHS, Department of Education, Western Water, etc.)”

If Villawood succeed in this, then a precedent will be set for any other such proposal – there will be a path laid for Woodend to become exactly what Cranbourne, or Melton have become.

Click on this link for ways to stop this happening!

If you want to keep the places in the pictures above as they are, and know and love where they are taken from, and what of, you’ll want to protect them.

If you don’t want similar things to the pictures at the top to appear in your town, then you’ll want to resist them.

You know what to do.


35 Responses to We ♡ Woodend!

  1. Paul says:

    WELL DONE NO VILLAWOODEND GROUP! I submitted a little note to the Leader for you (see below).
    Suburban Sprawl….it goes a little something like this:
    1. Developer buys land surrounding a community that has taken years to develop a sound set of infrastructure
    2. Developer bullies the local council (see your article for the start of that process)
    3. Developer has coffee with the local members and twist arms in high places
    4. Developer runs a sleazy glossy campaign to appease the local community
    5. Developer takes council to VCAT to get the planning amendments they need. Council has shown the community it cares but happily takes the increase in rates that comes with the development.
    6. Developer rolls in 650+ you b’ute houses that are slapped together in the cheapest way possible and are energy guzzlers.
    7. Developer leaves town with mega profits and a community wondering why they can’t get the services they need and how they ended up in yet another suburban sprawl.
    We have all seen this time and time again. Lets not let this happen to Woodend. If this community can band together over an issue of the number of lanes on our main road then surely we can fight for the town itself.


  2. Woodender says:

    Keep up the good work, everyone! I’ll be there on saturday to support the No Villawoodend Group and hurl abuse at the developers…

    Can anyone tell me when the Council is planning to pass the draft settlement strategy into law? Are we talking months? Another year? It seems to me that the minute the strategy is safetly cemented in place, Villawood will have no choice but to pack up and move on to trash another town..

    • BACBikes says:

      Can we keep the abuse-hurling polite, do you reckon? Rapier, rather than cudgel?

      We are girding our loins for more than a small battle . . .

      Good on you ! 🙂

    • janie says:

      I have an email from the mayor saying that the council will be briefed on all sumissions made in March. Also that public input helps the council in coming to a decision.
      So get emailing now!

  3. Rob Buttrose says:

    So how does one win a campaign like this? Is it a matter of targeting “the perpetrators of this proposition” or turning key councillors to our point of view? If so, let’s have some names and contacts please. If it will be decided by a legal challenge, can we gain the support and assistance of the any in the law fraternity who have retreats in the backwoods? (I am sure there must be a few).
    I agree that demanding that the Draft Settlement Strategy be passed seems the most promising approach.

    • BACBikes says:

      There’s plenty of contacts on the header to get writing to or telephoning, if you’re keen. If we spread their details, then more people will. I’m on the lookout for lawyers.

  4. Woodender says:

    Both the Macedon Ranges Weekly and the Macedon Ranges Leader seem to be biased towards the developers – no doubt because Villawood is purchasing expensive double-page spreads promoting the proposed estate. Apart from the biased ‘Land-locked away’ headline the other week, I noticed in the latest print edition that out of the 16 comments on the Leader website, the editors chose to publish in print the only two pro-development comments and ignored the 14 anti-Villawood comments…

    Perhaps we can get the no-villawood flyer printed in the paper every week to create some balance? Or, if not in the actual paper, we could have it packaged with all the ‘junk mail’ that spills out when you unwrap your paper. This might be expensive… and it’s possible that the papers would claim they can’t print any articles/ads attacking an advertising cash-cow like Villawood.

    Any thoughts?

    Perhaps part of the agreement with advertisers is they can’t publish articles/comments that would damage their cause….

    • BACBikes says:

      What about writing in and questioning this? I think it’d be worth a try. I wrote one in last week after reading the empty-headed one from Ms Daly. We’re still trying to figure out the best way of spending our limited advertising dollars. Any suggestions gratefully received.

    • Chris says:

      Make sure everyone you know refuse to advertise in these rags. If enough local businesses pull their ads out of these papers they will quickly change their tune!

  5. Chris says:

    This suburban type of development will destroy Woodend’s country charm. Currently Woodend is largely beautiful tree filled streets with stylish country homes on spacious 1000m2 or 2000m2 blocks blended in with the environment… this will be totally destroyed by the McMansions on tiny 500m2 blocks that these greedy developers are proposing! The environment will be punished by their slash and bash methods as they try to squeeze as many houses in as possible. Infrastructure can’t cope with traffic and water supply to feel the biggest pinch. And make no mistake, all Woodend property will be massively devalued (go and check out how much these developers have devalued other areas of high class and strong value with their tacky and over developed ways!). All Woodend residents need to oppose this, it will effect us all.

  6. Woodender says:

    Here’s my rant that I sent to the Leader and then adjusted and sent to the Guardian:

    “I am writing to question Macedon Leader’s judgement in printing and supporting Villawood’s ‘Davies Hill’ push, which is opposed so strongly by the majority of your own readers. If you were to come to Woodend to gauge the community feel here, you would understand that there is enormous concern and anger at Villawood and its attempt to force this development onto the town.

    I understand that the double-page colour spreads purchased by Villawood would bring in much-needed advertising dollars, but it would not seem to be intelligent long-term business practise to alienate your own readership for short-term monetary gains. At present, the Leader is seen to be ‘in bed with Villawood’, with your enthusiastic printing of their advertising and – this has been commented on by many people I’ve spoken to, both online and on the street – with its selective and biased printing of letters on this issue. This is not honest, fair and independent journalism.

    I might add that the Leader is furthering Villawood’s misleading suggestion that this mega-development is a ‘done deal’. The patronising fake post-it notes such as ‘Just keeping you updated :)’ are certainly misleading and are causing concern in Woodend that the mega-development will go ahead. This is a speculative proposal, and will only go ahead if Villawood can overcome political and planning hurdles, and contravene local and state planning policy. This seems very unlikely, unless Villawood is able to win over its opponents through a campaign of misinformation, furthered by your unbalanced reporting on this issue.

    The Davies Hill sketch itself is full of errors and advertising spin – the blue lakes at the back of the sketch are the sewerage treatment plant, the eastern corner of the golf course is 2.25km, not 1 km from town, the 2 proposed sites for Braemar hide the fact that one of these sites will be full of Villawood’s houses, and the shaded-over area of trees in the bottom right-hand corner will be the huge exit road onto Forest street that Villawood will build to cope with the huge amount of traffic that will be dumped on our town’s roads.

    The ‘about us’ button on the Leader’s website brings up the following: ‘Valued for covering local issues, events and news that really matter to our communities, we are perceived to be without bias, agenda and sensationalism.’ In this case, your readership would like you to cover the story of the Woodend residents’ concern and rejection of this mega-development, rather than just covering your own pages in Villawood’s advertising. Your treatment of this issue has meant that there is no way (here in Woodend at least) that you are ‘perceived to be without bias’. Please, please report on this issue fairly and hold Villawood to account for any lies they want to pay you to print – it is damaging your paper’s reputation.

    • Act Now says:

      Excellent letter! So how do we get to the people the papers are not reporting opposition letters? perhaps we need to higher to the ABC or Commercial Channels or pehaps, Media Watch?

      We need an event to raise the profile that captures the imagination, cannot be ignored and shows the community support.

      One idea is a “Bike Ride for Woodend”. We can invite families to bike our town over a set route with community BBQ at say the childrens park at the end. We could ask local shops for donations or invite donations towards sausage sanger. We could invite speakers and Councilors.

      As a community we are great at organising these events. Then we can get the Media to take note and report the local opposition.

      Act Now

  7. Woodender says:

    …. and here’s a similar email sent to the Braemar College principal & execs:

    Dear Braemar administrators,

    I am writing to express my concern at Braemar’s connection with Villawood Properties and their push to impose a 650-lot ‘mega-development’ upon Woodend. You may be unaware of the community concern and anger in Woodend over the proposed development. ‘Davies Hill’, if it were to go ahead, would cause significant damage to the town’s character and community feel, transforming Woodend into yet another ugly Taylor’s Lakes or Caroline Springs-type sprawl. Woodend’s infrastructure, both physical and social, could not cope with the huge population influx that this would bring.

    Villlawood is enthusiastically plastering Braemar’s name over all of their aggressive marketing copy, perhaps in an attempt to draw on the community’s respect for Braemar to bolster their own flagging proposal. This linking of Braemar with a company that is regarded with such distaste by every Woodend resident I know cannot be helpful for the school’s image, especially as Woodend must be the source of many of your future students. At present, Villawood’s advertising has led to the general consensus among townspeople is that Braemar is ‘in bed with Villawood’.

    It is wonderful that Braemar is expanding and searching for a site for a second campus, but a partnership with a company like Villawood, held in such low esteem by local residents, must surely be the wrong way to go about it.

  8. Woodender says:

    Did you see this article?


    Poor old Wallan – and Mr Costelloe looks so proud of that ugly estate stretching to the horizon behind him…

    • BACBikes says:

      Yes, I did. You might be interested to know (it’s in Pt Cook and not Wallan as the article suggests) that the ‘boat’ that he’s in had a big “HMAS Villawood” on the side of it. The Navy doesn’t like that sort of thing, as one serving officer said. I think that if this officer was to raise the issue, then Villawood would hear about it, they being relatively senior in the service.

  9. Peter Hobbs says:

    Good on you, keep up the good work.

  10. Emma says:

    Villawood pushing this line to state government to justify development in Woodend:


    Aren’t Gisborne and Kyneton more suited for development in terms of infrastructure & facilities?

    • BACBikes says:

      I have problems with the whole concept of ‘greenfields’ development- they’re ‘green fields’ for a reason, and not simply to make it easy (rather than chopping down trees to do it) to plonk factories and houses on. We’re not in the middle of the industrial revolution any more, and we should be looking for ways to use the land that has been utilised historically for housing more efficiently. You don’t build happy towns by ignoring history, and the time and effort expended by previous generations in an hubristic rush to the bank with your new-found wealth.

  11. Woodender says:

    “FAQ #37: Will Davies Hill change the role of Woodend within the Macedon Ranges Shire?

    The draft Settlement Strategy classifies Woodend as a District Town, defined by a population of 2,000 to 6,000. Should the Davies Hill proposal be approved and proceed, Woodend would remain a District Town. Nearby towns including Riddells Creek, Romsey and Kyneton are forecast to become Large District Towns under the draft Settlement Strategy. ”

    Have we checked the maths for this claim? The Settlement Strategy allows for 4400 people by 2036, using the residential-zoned land already available. Add Villawood’s 650 households to this and we’ll be pushed over to a Large District Town very fast, unless the majority of the 650 new households decide to have no kids… even if every household had only 3 people, we’d have a population of 6350 – and Woodend will officially be a Large District Town.

  12. Danny Beranic says:

    I have a brother that lives in Woodend with his family.
    I am not a resident but would certainly be disapointed to say the least at this monsterous proposal.
    It seems to me as an outsider looking in, that the residents of Woodend need to call a town meeting.
    I lived in Werribee approximately 15 years ago when the town was told that a toxic dump would be built in Werribee.
    A town meeting was called at the Werribee race course, attended to by 10 to 15 thousand peopole.
    The news papers and TV stataions all attended and the plight of the Werribee residents was brought to the attention of the state & country.

    The Toxic dump was canned.

    Good luck, Dont give up the fight. !!!!!!!!!

  13. Karyn Sanders says:

    Thank you for your thorough, yet easily understood, analysis of Villawoods Master Plan. Keep up the great work!

  14. Act Now says:

    Can I ask, as and Idea to show our opposition how many would agree to fitting a A2 size cor flute sign to thier house? I would.

    I propose a white of yellow backing with words like:

    I Oppose Villawood and I VOTE!

    I selected these words as they move past the obvious that we don’t want Woodend to the only power we have, which is a threat to vite against any Councilor or State Gov rep that supports them. That is democracy. That would put fear into State Gov with a slim majority.

    What do your think? I would be willing to provide the seed money to get the signs and then we get more by selling them for a $.

    Imagine our town, dotted with yellow signs, each sign on each house a personal statement that we don’t want Villawood. Any pollie visiting can count the sign and the votes and act at their own risk.

    Feedback please…

    Act Now

    • Act Now says:

      Oops, sorry for typos but you get my gist I hope ; – )

    • BACBikes says:

      I think signs are a good idea. I think the slogan is good – as it picks up on the tenet of democracy representing the people’s will, and not simply being a rubber stamp for big business.
      Once we get a final format, sort out a production run (50? 100?) with a local printer, then we can sell them at a stall. We’re good at stalls now 🙂 Pretty soon everyone will want one.


  15. Matt says:

    Town Meeting?? Now there’s a good idea!!

    You guys have been doing great work with the stalls and letters, but we need strength in numbers to show all concerned that this is a huge issue that concerns ALL residents of Woodend and neighbouring towns.

    • BACBikes says:

      Stay tuned. You may hear shortly about a meeting called to address these issues – and it’s a bit bigger than just li’l ole us . . .

  16. Woodender says:

    Hi WRAP,

    The changes to the settlement strategy are very worrying – I’ve just fired off two emails to all councillors.

    Can we check the figures of the numbers of lots required to meet the projected population? That is the heart of the argument – the revised lot-supply figures have to be disproven.

    This is from Villawood’s FAQ:

    “Villawood has commissioned an independent town planning assessment of the land supply assumptions contained within the draft Settlement Strategy, which highlights inconsistencies in the calculated amount of zoned land available in Woodend. Council is currently evaluating the information supplied by the independent consultant. Villawood believes that the community requires the correct information and time to consider the Davies Hill proposal in detail before the Settlement Strategy is finalised. Villawood look forward to working with Council to provide a sustainable future for Woodend.”

    I suppose the council have taken the figures of Villawood’s ‘independent’ land supply assessors as gospel? Can we get hold of this document and see if the assessment can be disproven before the settlement strategy meeting?

    Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    • BACBikes says:

      Have a look at the latest post. We’ve raised (and are raising) the question with Council about their figures, and justifications for them. We think that certain submissions have been given more weight than they need to – leading to these alterations. Come to the meeting on Wednesday to see what they’ve done.

  17. Woodender says:

    Thinking ahead – if/when Villawood’s application for rezoning is rejected by council, what will be their Plan B? Will they water down their present proposal and reapply? Or will they cut their losses, sell the land and leave Woodend? Or will they sit on the property until the Strategy expires in 2036 and launch the estate plans all over again?

    I hope they sell – preferably to a farmer who respects the land and puts it to the use it was zoned for.

  18. steve retikas says:

    They must be joking. Even I as a city slicker that visits once a year knows it is a sacred and preserved town and NOT an emerging regional suburb. Get real guys…….must be joking.

  19. Jane says:

    Good on you Villawood! My partner leaves every morning at 4.45am to get to city work by 6am to beat the bottleneck of traffic that hits the Calder by Sunshine Ave. The train takes on average 1.5 hours and is standing room only by 7am. Forget about enrolling your kids in the local college – it has a two year waiting list, and the catholic equivalent is now not even taking kids from the catholic primary feeder it is so full. If you are trying to sell a dream Villawood that life is special in the country, just wait until another thousand families move in! I for one will be chopping my rural farm zone block into units, thanks to Villawood changing the rules to enable us all to do so – this village that has for over 150 years retained its charm will become an extension of Melton – the reality of living here will not be sustainable for most, and the only decent industry – tourism – will be lost, as who wants to visit a suburb on their weekends anyway.

  20. HB says:

    Woodend vs Villawood Round Two! – Ding ding!

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